As the seasons change and we bid farewell to the hot months of summer, people start digging out their blankets and warm winter clothing because, as humans, we do not have a lot of natural protection against the cold. Similarly, Vizslas are a breed of dogs who lack coats that are adapted to ward off the chill of winter. So how do you protect your Vizsla in the winter?
Limit a Vizsla’s outdoor time to exercising and toilet breaks. Provide them with protective clothing. Wipe their paws down after being outside, trim their nails, and use a weatherproofing pad balm. Monitor the Vizsla’s food and water. Use heat sources safely. Take care to prevent them from getting lost.
Vizslas are energetic bird dogs who need at least one hour of high-intensity exercise every day, which is difficult to provide if cold weather keeps you and your Vizsla inside. Furthermore, not all homes are equipped with central heating, so your Vizsla may even need some help staying warm when inside the house. This article will supply you with information on how to protect your Vizsla in the winter.
Can Vizslas Handle Cold Weather?
In the past, when dogs were first domesticated, they were bred with specific characteristics to suit the work they were doing. They were also typically bred with physical features to suit the environmental conditions of the area.
Vizslas originate from Hungary, where the average temperatures are between 46°F and 52°F, and they were bred for long days out in the hunting fields. Strangely, however, Vizslas actually have a low tolerance for the cold.
The high energy levels of Vizslas help to keep them naturally fit. However, it also means that Vizslas do not typically carry any extra weight that could serve as heat insulation protection in the winter.
Furthermore, a Vizslas coat is not adapted to conserving body heat, but we will discuss this in more detail in the next section.
Characteristics Of Vizsla’s Natural Coat
Instead of having a long, thick coat, a Vizsla’s outer coat is short, thin, and sleek, and they do not have an undercoat. This seems like a strange physical characteristic to breed into a hunting dog from a colder country. However, it is not actually that unusual.
German Shorthaired Pointers and Weimaraners are both shorthaired hunting dogs from Germany, which experiences cold winters, and Pointers are UK-bred shorthaired hunting dogs.
The reason for these short, thin coats is that they do not pick up vast quantities of debris while out in the field, and they also dry quickly.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Outdoor Time And Sleeping Arrangements
Keep Your Vizsla Inside When You Go Out
You cannot keep your Vizsla cooped up inside the house for the duration of winter. They will go stir-crazy and will probably destroy your house. However, you should make sure that their outside times are limited and supervised.
When the weather is cold, it is imperative that your Vizsla is not locked outside while you are at work.
Even when you pop out for a quick grocery run, you should not leave your Vizsla outside. You never know what delays might occur that would leave your Vizsla outside for longer than may be healthy for them.
Be Vigilant When You Exercise Your Vizsla
You can still take your Vizsla outside to exercise them. While they are active and moving around, they are generating heat energy, so it is easier for them to keep warm. But observe them closely to make sure that they are okay. Take them back inside if they are showing signs of being cold, uncomfortable, or miserable.
If you let your Vizsla exercise alone in the yard, then make sure they can come back inside whenever they want to. Obviously, when it is cold, you don’t want to leave doors open. So, unless you have a big enough doggy door and your Vizsla knows how to use it, this might mean you will have to supervise any outdoor time.
Vizslas Should Not Sleep Outside
Additionally, Vizslas should never sleep outside during the winter. They do not like to sleep outdoors at any time, but in winter, it can become dangerous.
They do not have to sleep with you under the covers, but you should at least provide your Vizsla with a dog bed, blanket, or rug on the floor to help keep them warm during the night when they are inactive, and so are generating little heat energy.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Clothing
Do Vizslas Need Coats And Sweaters?
The thin natural coat of a Vizsla means that these dogs often need a little extra help from coats and sweaters to stay warm when they go outside in the winter. Your Vizslas activities and the thickness and material of the coat or sweater need to be carefully considered.
What Kind Of Coat Or Sweater Should You Get For Your Vizsla?
If your Vizsla is indoors and you have central heating, underfloor heating, etc., then your Vizsla probably does not require a coat or sweater. What are you wearing around the house? Use this as a guideline for what your Vizsla will need.
If the house is still a little bit chilly, you can look at a warm polar fleece or woolen sweater. You can buy or make these, but just endure that they are the correct size. The sweater should not interfere with a Vizslas’s ability to go to the toilet. Additionally, they should not be too tight around the neck, armpits, or waist.
If you are taking your Vizsla out for a walk, but you don’t plan to push them hard, make sure the coat is warm because they will not be producing a lot of heat.
If you are taking your Vizsla for an intense exercise session, then there are two things to consider. Firstly, they need to have ample time to warm up their muscles before reaching their maximum exertion. Secondly, their coat should not be too thick, because they will be generating a lot of heat energy and you don’t want them to overheat.
This may require layering a thinner coat under a thicker one for the warm-up and then removing the outer jacket during the main exercise session.
An exercising coat also has to take into account your Vizsla’s movements and the fact that they will probably be wearing a collar or harness and leash.
If you live in a country with cold and wet winters, you need to make sure that the coat has a waterproof layer on the outside. Otherwise, the material will just get wet and hold cold water against your Vizslas skin.
If you are taking your Vizsla into country fields or on hunting expeditions, then a woolen or polar fleece sweater is going to pick up a lot of debris, and they can also tear or rip more easily if caught on thorns, sticks, etc. Instead, you should look at getting a winter coat that is made from a more durable material.
Best Coats And Sweaters For Vizslas
Vizsla owners recommend the following coats and sweaters for Vizslas:
- Weatherbeeta dog coats. These coats come in a range of materials and shapes and with a variety of features, including waterproofing and leash, and harness holes.
- Carnival Hill hand-made dog coats. These coats are made out of backpacking material and lined with fleece.
- RuffWear fleece sweaters. These are form-fitting with sleeves and a zipper, making them great protection from the cold.
- Chilly Dogs. This Canadian company sells both coats and sweaters with a range of features.
Do Vizslas Need Boots?
Boots for dogs are tricky to work with. Your Vizsla may absolutely refuse the wear them, in which case this point becomes moot.
However, even if you can convince your dog that wearing boots is fine, you have to make sure that they fit properly, stay on, and do not impede your Vizsla’s ability to walk or run.
In very cold areas, boots can be a good idea because snow, ice, and frozen ground can damage your Vizsla’s pads. But if they refuse to wear foot coverings, there are other ways to protect their paws.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Protecting A Vizslas Paws
Vizslas do not have heavily feathered feet, which means that they are less likely to catch and hold ice and snow on the paws.
However, it also means that they have less physical protection, and you need to protect your Vizslas delicate pads from the harsh cold and from the anti-freeze chemicals and salt that are used to melt snow from roads and sidewalks.
Wipe Your Vizsla’s Paws Down
After playing in the garden with your Vizsla or taking them for a workout in the neighborhood, it is recommended that you wipe your Vizsla’s paws with warm water. Don’t use hot water because rapidly heating cold extremities is painful and dangerous.
Washing your Vizsla’s paws will remove the cold ice or snow, but it will also wash away any chemicals and salt that were on the ground. These chemicals are toxic to dogs, so you do not want them licking it off of their paws.
Check Your Vizsla’s Paws For Injuries
While you clean your Vizsla’s paws after an outdoor excursion, take time to give them a quick check. Look for any signs of cuts, abrasions, or tenderness, ensuring that you can treat such injuries as soon as they occur.
Keep Your Vizsla’s Nails Short
When a dog has long nails, then walking on hard surfaces forces the toes and pads further apart. This makes it more likely for ice and snow to get caught in between your Vizsla’s pads.
As such, you need to make sure that you keep your Vizsla’s nails trimmed down to the appropriate length.
Using A Pad Balm
You can buy pad balms or even use Vaseline to protect your Vizsla’s pads while outside. Spread a thin layer onto your Vizsla’s pads before taking them out for a walk, then wash their paws with warm water on your return and apply another thin layer.
The Spruce Pets has a list of the seven top recommended dog pad balms for 2021. You can see that list here.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Keep Your Vizsla Dry
If your Vizsla gets wet while outside, make sure that you dry when you return home. First, remove their wet coats, sweaters, and boots. Then, if they have no issue with a hairdryer, then use it on a low to moderate heat setting. Otherwise, a towel can be used.
Keep your Vizsla away from any bodies of water. You do not want them to try and swim in the winter! Additionally, any water that is frozen over is a slipping hazard for your Vizsla, or it may not be completely frozen, and your Vizsla can fall through the ice.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Monitoring Their Food And Water
In the winter, your Vizsla will be using up more energy to produce heat. This may require an increase in their calorie intake.
Monitor your dog and see if they seem hungrier. If they do, then consider feeding them a bit more or perhaps adding a mid-day meal. Vizslas are not typically prone to gluttony, so you should not have to worry about them over-eating.
If you have a Vizsla who doesn’t really want to eat more food but they seem to be struggling to maintain their body heat, then try giving them food higher in calories.
Depending on how cold the winters get in your area, the water in your dog’s bowl may freeze, even when not kept outside. Check their water bowl multiple times a day and try to keep it in a warmer room of the house.
Another issue, which is also one that humans struggle with, is reduced water intake in winter. Your Vizsla might not want to drink as much in winter, but they do still need to stay hydrated. If you notice your Vizsla is not drinking enough, speak to your veterinarian about a possible solution.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Safe Heat-Source Practices
If you have a fireplace of any kind, then you need to make sure that your Vizsla is always supervised when in the same room as the fire. This also applies to radiators and to heater units, especially free-standing units that can get knocked over.
Do not place your Vizsla’s dog beds too near to a heat source, and also make sure that the underfloor heating is not too high for your Vizsla if they sleep on the floor.
Protecting Your Vizsla In The Winter: Prevent Them From Getting Lost
Heavy rains, snow, and wind can cause fences and walls to fall over, so you should check your property’s boundary lines every day to ensure that they are still intact. You don’t want your Vizsla running off in the cold weather.
A Vizsla who is lost outside during a cold winter is in a lot of trouble. Rain and snow can disguise scents making it hard for your Vizsla to find their way back home again, and they can end up being exposed to the elements for too long.
Additionally, drivers can find their vision obscured during a storm, and vehicles are harder to control on slippery roads, increasing the risk of your Vizsla being hit by a car.
If you are concerned about your Vizsla getting lost in the winter, you could invest in a GPS collar so that they can be found quickly.
Vizslas have short, thin coats and low body-fat, athletic builds, which means that they cannot naturally handle the cold very well. However, this does not mean that Vizslas cannot live in countries that have low average temperatures.
As detailed in the article, there are a number of ways to protect your Vizsla in the winter, including limiting their outdoor time, providing them with protective clothing, weatherproofing their paws, keeping them dry, monitoring their food and water, following heat-source safety practices, and preventing them from getting lost.